No Roads Expeditions

Expeditions

Phone : +61 3 9598 8581

A Nations Journey

  • Timor 1
  • Timor 2
  • Timor 3
  • Timor 4
  • Timor 6
  • Timor 7
  • Timor 8
  • Timor 9
  • Timor 10
  • Timor 11

Background

2015 commemorates the 40th Anniversary of the murders of the Balibo 5 and Roger East. Our journey will take us to Balibo and to Dili Harbour to understand what happened to these brave men. 

"It's now feared that five Australian television newsmen may have been killed in the fighting in East Timor. Although the reports are unconfirmed, the influential Indonesian newspaper Kompas quotes the UDT leader Senor Lopez da Cruz as saying that the bodies of four white men were found in the ruins of a house in Balibo late last week soon after the newsmen were reported missing. Also near the bodies was a hand-written note with the word 'Australia' on it." ABC Radio Broadcast 1975.

Highlights

  • Retrace the footsteps of the WWII Australian Sparrow Force 
  • Visit sites of battles between the Fretilin and Indonesian Forces
  • Trek through beautiful landscapes of one of the newest nations on earth 
  • Trek to the highest peak in East Timor, Mt Ramelau at 2963m. Some of the best in SE Asia.
  • Visit remote villages and meet the descendants of the Creados, East Timorese that helped Australian soldiers during WWII 
  • Meet some of the friendliest people on earth. Their warmth and humour is infectious.

Overview

No Roads Expeditions has once again led the way into opening new and exciting areas to trekking.

The Sparrow Force Expedition retraces the footsteps of the Australian commando forces during WWII. On the 12th December 1941 the 2/2nd Independent Company (WWII Commandos) landed in Timor to form a barrier between the Japanese advance on Australia. During the next year these 327 men of all ranks were to tie up over 21,000 crack Japanese troops and inflict 1,500 deaths with the loss of only 40 Australians killed in action.

On the 19th February 1942, the 2/2nd took to the hills and carried out the most successful guerrilla warfare of any units in WWII against the Japanese. With loss of communications with Australia, these troops were thought to have either surrendered or been captured. It was not until 20th April 1942 that contact was re-established with Australia. In that time the men of the 2/2nd Independent Company lived off the land with the help of the people of Portuguese Timor and their Portuguese administrators, and with the great help of the Creados, the men and boys of Timor who personally supported the Australian soldiers.

The story of the 2/2nd Independent Company is one of great leadership, steadfastness and courage in the face of overwhelming odds. Under-supplied in every sense these men showed what a determined unit can achieve in the most difficult circumstances. The exploits of the 2/2nd Independent Company are without doubt some of the most inspiring of any unit in the Australian Army during the 2nd World War. Their story is an inspiration to all Australians as an example of the determination, resourcefulness, courage and mateship that Australian soldiers have shown in every conflict from the Boer War until the current involvement today in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Sparrow Force Expedition crosses Timor Leste from the North coast to the South coast, covering a total of approximately 130km, through rugged terrain with spectacular landscapes and views. The expedition will cross the highest point of Timor Leste, Mt Ramelau (aka Mt Tatamailau) which peaks at 2963 m ASL. We will cross ridges, river beds, valleys and forests. The expedition ends at Betano Bay on the south coast. This expedition will give you a great insight into the difficult terrain Australian forces had to endure during WWII as well as life in remote villages of one of the newest nation on the planet. We will also be visiting the town of Balibo a site that was made famous by the murder of Australian Journalists in the 1970's.

Itinerary

Dili to Betano Beach (Destroyer HMAS "Voyager" wreckage) back to Dili.

Day 1. Arrive in Dili (morning arrival) and transfer to your hotel, afternoon tour of Dili.
Day 2. Transfer to starting point (Comoro River bed junction) and trek to Daurudo along some Japanese tracks. Medium to Hard climb. (B,L,D)
Day 3. Daurudo - Dirhati River along medium difficulty tracks. (B,L,D)
Day 4. Dirhati River - Ertehu - Bush camp at Mt Tatamailau. Track is medium to hard. (B,L,D)
Day 5. Mt Tatmailau - Mt Ramelau base camp (summit for sunset). This is a hard steep trek. (B,L,D)
Day 6. Mt Ramelau summit - Soro (WWII combat zones) Hard steep sections. (B,L,D)
Day 7. Soro - Betano Beach. Here we will visit the wreckage of the HMAS "Voyager". This was the site of the Sparrow Force evacuation. Easy trekking with a 4WD section. (B,L,D)
Day 8. Betano Beach - Maubissi. (B,L,D)
Day 9. Maubisi - Dili. Transfer to Dili arriving there in the afternoon. Fairwell dinner at 1900 hrs. (B,L,D)
Day 10. Balibo side trip. (B,L)
Day 11. Departure - Transfer to Airport. (B)

*This is Plan A
We may need to change village stays, tracks used etc due to weather conditions or lack of facilities in an area. You will need to pack a good sense of humour and a flexible mind on this expedition.

YOUR AUSTRALIAN GUIDE
Our expedition will be led by one of our Australian Guides. They are very experienced trek guides along the Kokoda Track in PNG. They will have a wealth of knowledge regarding Sparrow Force as well as WWII in general.

Our guides will be supported by our local crew who have intimate knowledge of the areas we are traveling through.

FLIGHTS TO DILI
The best way to get to Dili is via Darwin. From there you fly Air North, a Qantas subsidiary. They fly everyday. You can book this trip through our in house agent, Lisa. You can call the office on (03) 9598 8581 or email Lisa at lisa@noroads.com.au.

PERSONAL PORTER
We are able to arrange a Personal Porter to carry your main pack. You will then only be required to carry a small day pack with water in it. This gives a local East Timorese work for approximately 6 days, much needed funds for his family and community. The cost for the expedition is $350.

VISA
Visas for all nationalities can be purchased on arrival at Nicolau Lobato International Airport. The cost is US$30. There is also a US$10 Departure Tax.

SAFETY
East Timor is a very friendly nation. The people have greeted all our groups warmly and with enthusiasm.

However we are required to advise you of what the Australian Government has to say about East Timor at the following web address:

http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zwcgi/view/Advice/East_Timor

SPARROW FORCE HISTORY

On the 12th December 1941 the 2/2nd Independent Company (WWII Commandos) landed in Timor to form a barrier between the Japanese advance on Australia. During the next year these 327 men of all ranks were to tie up over 21,000 crack Japanese troops and inflict 1,500 deaths with the loss of only 40 Australians killed in action.

On the 19th February 1942, the 2/2nd took to the hills and carried out the most successful guerrilla warfare of any units in WWII against the Japanese. With loss of communications with Australia, these troops were thought to have either surrendered or been captured. It was not until 20th April 1942 that contact was re-established with Australia. In that time the men of the 2/2nd Independent Company lived off the land with the help of the people of Portuguese Timor and their Portuguese administrators, and with the great help of the Creados, the men and boys of Timor who personally supported the Australian soldiers.

The story of the 2/2nd Independent Company is one of great leadership, steadfastness and courage in the face of overwhelming odds. Under-supplied in every sense these men showed what a determined unit can achieve in the most difficult circumstances. The exploits of the 2/2nd Independent Company are without doubt some of the most inspiring of any unit in the Australian Army during the 2nd World War. Their story is an inspiration to all Australians as an example of the determination, resourcefulness, courage and mateship that Australian soldiers have shown in every conflict from the Boer War until the current involvement today in Iraq and Afghanistan.

TIMOR LESTE, A RICH HISTORY!!

Timor Leste, known previously as East Timor has a history of over 500 years of Portuguese colonisation which was followed by 25 years of Indonesian occupation.

The culture of the country continues to reflect this history through its food, language and architecture.

Routes

There is a real need for all trekkers visiting Timor Leste with No Roads Expeditions to have a genuine spirit of adventure and to be aware that they are part of the earlydevelopment of tourism in this country. As such the daily itinerary may need to be altered to address unforeseen circumstances and challenges.

Walking times are estimates and include breaks and lunches. Weather, track conditions and trekker fitness will impact on these times.

Day 1.

Arrive in the capital of Timor Leste, Dili where you will meet your Australian Guide and our local team.

You will transfer to your hotel where you will have time to settle in. A tour of Dili by bus will follow during which you will have an opportunity to visit markets, historic locations, monuments and witness first

hand the vibrant redevelopment of Dili from the destruction that preceded this country's independence.

On return to the hotel you will receive a detailed briefing from your Australian Guide. During this briefing you will be provided with ample opportunity to ask questions about the trek or any other matters.

In the evening you will enjoy a sensational meal with the group at a local seafront restaurant.

That night you will pack and be ready to depart the following morning to commence your trekking adventure.

Day 2.

Start location: 5 km out of Dili at Comoro River.  Transport provided by four wheel drive vehicle.

Altitude: 5m

Departure time: 8.30am

Lunch: At large tree on old Japanese road.

Camp location: Bushcamp Daurudu River

Arrival time: 2.30pm

Duration of day: 6 hrs 

Altitude: 650m

Net ascent/descent: 645m net ascent

General comments:

Today is a great introduction to the terrain and early in the morning we will trek past the Four Spurs location, where Australian troops in WWII maintained an observation post on Dili and Japanese movements in the harbour.

Trekking today can be described as easy to moderate over rocky terrain and through areas thickly covered in gum trees. There is then a steep climb to our camp site set in a beautiful bush location.

Trek start point, Comoro River, Dili.

Day 3.

Start location: River Daurudu

Altitude: 650m

Departure time: 8 am

Camp location:  On bank of Dirhati River in close proximity to the town of

 Suco-Liurrai (Depicted) 

Arrival time: 3pm

Altitude: 950m

Net ascent/descent: 300m net ascent

Duration of day: 7 hrs 

General comments: We leave the River and trek across open shale hills and onto a road which provides scenic views of rice paddies prior to passing through a small town. This will be your first full day of walking and you will start to feel what rural life is like in Timor Leste and experience the warm greeting of the local farmers.

We will trek along a ridge with views of Aemere and Villa Maria (2 spots important during WWII)

We will then proceed to a river camping spot along the road through the town of Suco-Liurai. A swing bridge across the river in front of the store can be used to cross the river should the river be too deep to wade across. Fresh bread rolls can be purchased here for $1 for 20 rolls!!

Camp beside the Nanolane river at Suco-Liurai.

Day 4.

Start location: Dirhati River at town of Suco-Liurai.

Altitude: 950m

Departure time: 8.00am

Camp location: Bush camp beside stream located at Mt.Tatamailau between the towns of Bertai and Mamude

Arrival time: 4pm

Altitude: 2050 m

Net days ascent/descent: 940 m net ascent

Duration of day: 8.5 hrs.

General comments: Today is a magnificent feast for the eyes. The initial walk is along ridges of medium difficulty which provide spectacular views.

We will then move off the road into bush land which is not unlike Australia with heavily covered gum trees. Fascinating ancient  rock walls built hundreds of years ago, are used as animal pens that are worth a short break to examine, then onto camp.

That night's bush camp is made in a beautiful valley beside a swiftly flowing stream. Herds of Timor ponies are often seen grazing close to the camp.

Bush camp beside stream located at Mt.Tatamailau between the towns of Bertai and Mamude

Day 5.

Start location: Bush camp

Altitude: 2050m

Departure time: 8am

Camp location: Mt.Ramelau camp near open air chapel in sheltered location amongst stunted gums.approx.150 below the peak (depicted below).

Arrival time: 5pm

Altitude: 2788m

Net ascent/descent: 773m net ascent

Duration of day: 9 hrs

General comments: Today is a big day. We will be trekking to the highest point in Timor-Leste, the Sacred Mt Ramelau. Initially we will be trekking through treed hills very similar to Victoria's High Country.  Herds of Timorese Ponies, ancient stone walls and fabulous views are experienced this day. There is also trekking in open grasslands and over hills with traditional Timorese farms with their unique thatched conical roofs. If you are lucky, we will see one of the famous Timorese "cowboys" riding the iconic Timorese Pony. We will then trek down to a road where our support vehicle will wait with supplies.

Lunch will be at Mausoro Mata before a support vehicle will shuttle us to the base of Mt Ramelau which has a recently constructed huge gateway and stone steps.   


The initial walk up the mountain will be via the stone steps and then a walking track along the side of the mountain. Camping that night in a sheltered location amongst stunted gum trees approximately 150m below the peak of Mt. Ramelau. There is a thatched cooking hut and chapel at this scenic location.

Trekkers can walk to the peak where there is a substantial religious statue of the Virgin Mary. In fine weather a spectacular view is available. This will be the coldest night of the trek due to the altitude getting down to 0c.

Camp located near open air chapel in sheltered location approximately 150m below the peak of Mt Ramelau.

Day 6.

Start location: Mt Ramelau

Altitude:  2788m

Departure time: 8am

Camp location: In the town of Soro.

Arrival time: 5pm

Altitude: 834m

Net ascent/descent: 1154m net descent

Duration of day: 9 hrs

General comments: This morning we descend Mt Ramelau along a slippery track through beautiful bush land. We then emerge into rolling fields which provide scenic views of traditional Timorese farms. We continue on a cobbled road and at around 12 noon we will be provided with a panoramic view of the Timor Sea.

The day will end at Soro where the group will spend the night camped near an interesting religious grotto.

Camp site beside grotto at the town

of Soro.

Day 7

Start location: Town of Soro.

Altitude: 1154 m

Departure time: 8am

Lunch: Large river crossing near south coast

Camp location: Betano

Arrival time: 4pm                   

Altitude: 6m

Net ascent/descent: 1148m net descent

Duration of day:  8 hours

General comments: Much of this days trek is along small roads where we will pass through numerous small villages and beautiful forests. On passing through the village of Lima we will see an interesting ruined Portuguese villa and also a small roadside shop where soft drinks and snacks can be purchased.

We will continue on for lunch at a large river crossing before being picked up for our transfer to Betano.

We then continue to the town of Betano, passing through a number of small villages.

The camp site is located in sand dunes close to the beach, a short walk from the town.  

An engine block of the WW2 destroyer HMAS Voyager (1), which was involved in resupplying Sparrow Force can be seen at low tide close to our camp.

There is an interesting memorial at crossroads in village, a remnant of the Indonesian presence as well as an impressive ruined Portuguese Customs building.

The beach itself is beautiful with sweeping golden sands where you can have a well deserved swim.  Afterwards we will enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Camp in the sand dunes on Betano Beach in close proximity to the town of Betano.

Day 08.

Start location: Betano Beach

Departure time: Depart in support vehicle at 8.45am

Accommodation: Old Portuguese Guest house and fort above the town of Maubisse

Arrival time: 12noon.

Duration of day:  3.5 hours

General comments: This is an interesting day traveling in our support vehicle, through towns on our journey back to Dili. We will visit the town of Same in the morning which was a central point of fighting in WWII. There will be ample time to walk around town and enjoy the locally grown coffee.

We will also visit the remains of a building blown up by Sparrow Force when munitions had to be left behind.

We will then drive to the town of Maubisse where you will stay at an old Portuguese guest house constructed within the walls of an old Portuguese fort which provides fantastic 360 degree views of rolling hills and distant mountains.

Accommodation is provided in twin share cottages.

We will have a chance to walk down into the town below the guest house. This location provides an excellent opportunity to rest and in the evening enjoy a great meal, cold beer and some more wonderful Timorese coffee!!

Day 09.

Start location: Maubisse guest house

Departure time:  8am

Accommodation: Hotel in Dili

Arrival time: 1.30pm

Duration of day:  5.5 hrs

General comments: Today we return to Dili in our support vehicle along winding roads through coffee plantations, primary forest and small villages. There will be several stops in towns to look at monuments and enjoy more coffee. This journey provides an opportunity to observe first hand daily life in numerous small towns that we pass through.

At Dare, located above Dili we will attend the Sparrow Force memorial. There is a very informative display at the memorial building detailing the WW2 history.

We will then return to Dili and our hotel.

That afternoon we are free to shop in Dili or relax by the hotel pool. That evening the group will enjoy a fantastic meal at one of the beach side restaurants.

Day 10.

This morning we will travel to the town of Balibo which has become infamous in Australian history. It was here where five Australian journalists were massacred by Indonesian Special Forces during the invasion in 1975.

At this location you will visit the iconic "Australia House" in which the journalists lived. The front of the building still displays the rough Australia flag that was painted there in the hope that its presence would protect the journalists.

Nearby here is a fine example of an old Portuguese Fort which can be visited.

On the journey back to Dili we will stop in one of the small villages for lunch and more wonderful coffee!!!

This is a great excursion though be aware the roads are very rough. It  provides an excellent opportunity to see a section of the scenic coastline west of Dili.

That night the group will have dinner, once again at a fantastic beachfront

restaurant

Day 11.

You will be transported to the airport for your flight home.

Inclusions

  • Airport Transfers
  • Australian Guide throughout
  • Support vehicle in case of emergency
  • Dili tour
  • 3 nights accommodation in Dili (breakfast included)
  • 1 night hotel in Maubissi
  • Farewell dinner
  • 2 Local trek leaders
  • 1 porter per trekker
  • Tent, cooking equipment and eating utensils supplied
  • 5 ltrs of water per day per person
  • All camp meals while on expedition (10 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches and 8 Dinners)
  • Satellite phone
  • Endura electrolyte supplement for trekking

Maps